Written by Alice Cervia
Illustrated by Didì Gallese
I lift it back with my hands, about to wrap it in a ponytail. When I don’t feel that reassuring weight on my shoulders, I know it’s a signal, a phase: I’m getting ready to fight.
My hair has always been my identity, a dark, sometimes off-putting tangle.
As a child, my hair generated many nicknames; as a teenager, in order to keep wearing my mane, I had to resist the temptation of hair straighteners, smoothing masks and the ‘good’ advice of hairdressers. A precise choice of identity.
My hair has changed with me: it has been luxurious and resplendent during the Mediterranean summers of my twenties. It got quieter in my thirties when the London fog beat it down. My hair was almost straight the time I suffered from depression. It got back in shape, with its twirls and turns, after that.
When I struggle, when I face a challenge, I tie my hair. An exam, an issue at work, one sleepless night, too many sleepless nights in a row: I tie my hair in a frizzy ponytail.
For the past 15 months, I have been tying my hair almost every day: during my pregnancy, I was sweaty all the time, so much sweat. But my hair did not give up, it kind of supported me through and it even stopped greying.
After my daughter’s birth, my hair got quiet again, and now it is at her mercy: shapeless lianas she holds with her chubby fingers. It’s not ugly nor pretty, just so impractical.
It’s not the right fit to face the day after yet another sleepless night.
I lift it back with my hands, about to wrap it in a ponytail. When I don’t feel that reassuring weight on my shoulders, I know it’s a signal. I am going to cut them short, giving up a part of my identity forever, or maybe not.
I get ready to fight.